RtI Framework and Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD)
Local school districts may choose to use a process of assessing how a student responds to interventions at Tier 1 and Tier 2 as one of a variety of measures used in determining SLD eligibility.
The use of RtI in determining SLD eligibility was included in the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004 due to concerns with models of identification of SLD that use only IQ tests.
This represents a departure from former identification methods where a student was identified as SLD based on a test that measured IQ and compared it to actual performance. The more severe the discrepancy between these two measures, the more likely it is that a student is learning disabled. Under the state's dual discrepancy model, a K–3 student suspected of having a learning disability might, at the evaluator's discretion, still be given the standard IQ/performance test as part of a comprehensive evaluation. However, the student's progress monitoring data from Tier 1 and 2 interventions that establish a dual discrepancy (meaning low or large differences in achievement scores as compared to grade-level peers and a learning rate substantially below grade-level peers) are also incorporated into the evaluation and eligibility determination.
It is thought that the dual discrepancy model will give educators a broader view of how the student learns compared to the snapshot obtained from utilizing a single discrepancy model. One advantage is that the progress monitoring utilized in the RtI framework yields data directly relevant to instructional design and delivery. In this way, educators can better plan an effective program to meet the specialized needs of a student with disabilities, or distinguish a student who truly has a learning disability from one whose learning difficulties could be resolved with scientifically-based, general education interventions.
New Mexico Criteria for Identifying Students with Perceived Learning Disabilities: Subsection C of 188.8.131.52 NMAC
In an effort to make decisions that are founded in current research, provide early intervention services, increase the capacity of general education to meet student needs, and limit the number of inappropriate referrals for special education services, the NMPED enacted a state rule that requires the use of the dual discrepancy model for making SLD determinations. The rule provides a basis for the analysis of data generated by the intervention and progress monitoring process in Tiers 1 and 2 for SLD identification purposes. The rule provides that all public schools in New Mexico must use the dual discrepancy identification model for students as SLD in grades K–3 effective July 1, 2009.
Additional information regarding the use of data from progress monitoring under and RtI framework in determining LD eligibility is available in a question and answer format from the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Click on the link for Identification of Learning Disabilities. It is important to remember when reviewing national level information, that each state has its own RtI framework, so information and terminology needs to be considered in light of the construct of New Mexico's RtI state rule, guidance, and framework.
- The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Program's website features a toolkit for teaching and assessing students with disabilities. See Responsiveness to Intervention in the SLD Determination Process for a conceptual overview — including hypothetical examples of how an RtI framework might operate within a school setting and for a particular student — and to examine its role within the larger context of specific learning disabilities (SLD) determination:
- A variety of research articles and resources about using progress monitoring data for SLD determinations is available from the National Center for RtI: